REVENUE AND ENFORCEMENT
An interesting story:
- “Windsor police Chief Gary Smith has asked supervisors to look at who's writing tickets -- and who's not -- as part of an effort to engage front-line officers and identify future leaders…
While the number of traffic tickets issued by Windsor police has risen by about 79 per cent over the past decade, the number of provincial offence tickets issued has flat-lined, bucking a trend in other Ontario jurisdictions, where municipal coffers have benefited from increased ticket revenues…
"We've virtually flat-lined from 1999 to 2007," said [Victor Lipnicki, the city's director of provincial offences]. "I, personally, would like to see more law enforcement, quite frankly."
Smith told staff three months ago to "look for efficiencies and see where we could save some money" but cautioned Wednesday that linking municipal revenues with the issuing of tickets was a dodgy proposition. "We don't tie our enforcement to revenues. We never have and I don't think we ever will," he said. "It's a dangerous thing to get into."
I don’t know what you get out of this story but all I know is that I had better be careful driving through the streets of Windsor.
RAISING REVENUES AS AN OFF-HOURS TAXI SERVICE
Congratulations to Windsor Police for this act:
- “Windsor police came to the rescue of a wheelchair-bound woman who waited more than two hours in vain for an accessible cab…
But when they called from Wal-Mart at midnight for the ride home, they were told Checker had no idea when one would arrive. Fortunately for the two women, the store is open 24 hours at this time of year.
Andrea's husband Larry, 56, was at home and got on the phone several times to Checker Cab -- to no avail.
Finally, in desperation, Larry called Windsor police…
Smith said the staff sergeant on duty decided that circumstances warranted officers transporting Andrea's chair home from Wal-Mart.”
It would not surprise me if we heard down the road that someone was scolded for this step because after all there were liability concerns and it could set a precedent. Frankly who cares. Someone at the time made a caring decision and should be congratulated for it.
WINDSOR IS A TOUGH POLICING TOWN
- “Windsor police have the highest per capita costs in the county, and the second highest in Ontario among populations with 100,000 people or more…
Chief Gary Smith said Windsor police are saddled with some big expenses that many other services don't have, including higher benefit and overtime costs.
"A lot of these people don't have the same benefits package we have," he said.
"The last I heard, across Ontario we had one of the better overtime plans."
Smith said part of the cost comes from Windsor's location between Detroit and the rest of the county, which results in a large "transient" population including partiers.
"We put six or eight extra police a night on overtime every Friday and Saturday in the summer. That all comes with a cost."
He said another big expense is transportation. Windsor police spend about $3 million a year on vehicles. They also have on-staff mechanics. In many other areas, he said, municipal budgets cover that.”
I must admit that I do not understand what the Chief is saying with respect to overtime. If there is a need for all those officers on the weekends in summer, then why aren’t they scheduled? Why does the work have to be overtime or is that part of the union contract?
Even if we reduce the budget by the transportation costs of three million dollars, the total Police budget is about $65 million or about $294 per person. London is at $210, Waterloo is at $204 and Hamilton is at $228. However, when one looks at the tables, the transportation charges in general for the larger cities in Ontario are virtually all the same.
We have more Police officers in municipal police services per 100,000 population than any other City in Ontario. We have 215 while Toronto only has 209. London has 157, Waterloo has 143 and Hamilton has 153.
I am glad however that the new Chief learned from his predecessor how to justify his force’s expenses. As Chief Stannard used to say
- “it was unfair to compare Windsor with other jurisdictions because of border issues, the casino and drunk American teenagers in the downtown core.”
I wonder if there is a Windsor Police Chief quotation book that is passed on from Chief to Chief.
CRIME DOES PAY
- “Sixty-two police officers made the City of Windsor's list of municipal employees with salaries above the $100,000 mark in 2007. And that number will only rise next year, said [new police Chief Gary Smith]…
Now-retired police chief Glenn Stannard was the highest-paid city employee, making $218,934.81, including taxable benefits.
Smith said Stannard's salary likely included some retroactive pay, which would explain why it went up from $189,659.73 in 2006.”
In other words, about 14% of Windsor’s police officers made over $100,000. Most of those officers are staff sergeants or above whose new salaries by contract are going up
The Chief’s solution is not looking at ways of reducing salaries where possible or cutting the number of officers but rather “the salary reporting threshold should be raised.”
ARENA PARKING GRIDLOCK
Give me a break. It was well-known that the number of parking spots at the new Arena is substantially less than is required, especially if there is a sellout as there would be on opening night.
- “Police and other local officials are scrambling to find solutions to alleviate pre-game traffic gridlock for Windsor Spitfires games at the new WFCU Centre.
Hundreds of vehicles were slowed to a crawl attempting to enter the parking lot at the new east-end arena last Thursday, forcing the delay of opening-night ceremonies by about 10 minutes.
Police Chief Gary Smith vowed additional officers would be deployed to assist with traffic flow for Saturday’s night game against London and an afternoon matinee matchup Sunday against Erie.
There were four officers assigned to traffic for the two games, said Staff Sgt. Karl Belanger on Sunday, largely on Lauzon Parkway, which has been identified as the choke point.
“(Traffic) was funnelled to get people in,” he said. “It has been a little more improved. It’s a learning experience for everyone because it’s a new facility.”
Another aspect of the traffic trouble revolves around the three community rinks at the new WFCU Centre, which are open during Spitfires games, with users taking up a chunk of the available 1,950 parking spaces.”
Our well-trained, well-paid, experienced and fully staffed Police Department is not that dumb. I just do not believe it. I thought that it was a nice touch in the Star story saying that the Police Chief was stuck in gridlocked traffic as well.
Can the problem be solved?
- “We have more police now to direct traffic and we’ve started to shut down roads (in two directions) to allow traffic in before the game and out afterward,” said Rich Trella, the WFCU Centre’s general manager of events.
“I think parking might always be a bit of a problem, but we’re trying to do our best.”
I guess that there is only one thing that the City can do. We’re going to have to buy many more acres of land for parking at a much higher price per acre than before from the gentleman from London. I would assume the cost is higher since this is where Windsor’s new downtown is supposed to go.
Naturally, this cost will not be charged to the Arena Project itself because that project is finished. Good thing that this was discovered afterwards or else the cost of the Arena Project would have been over budget. This will just be a charge to general revenues.